One of the ways we classify foods is by flavor: sweet, sour, or savory. Our preferences influence which of these we find delectable and what tastes repulsive—but there may be a good reason to break out of your comfort zone.
Our article details why you should try bitter foods. We discuss how they can improve wellness, examples to try, and how to eat them.
Why you should try bitter foods:
- Most are nutritious.
- Improve your digestion.
- Reduce disease risk.
- Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
What Are Bitter Foods?
There are many naturally bitter foods and beverages. You might be curious—what’s responsible for the distinctive, lip-pursing flavor?
The answer is a compound we know as polyphenols. Even in low concentrations, these agents bestow a sour taste on whatever they’re in.
Polyphenols are found exclusively in plant-based items. They defend the plants against pathogens and UV radiation from the sun.
Common foods and beverages with an abundance of them include:
- Green tea.
- Citrus fruits.
However, you shouldn’t have to consult a list—your tastebuds will do the job for you.
Bear in mind that processed foods don’t count: sour candies or sodas won’t confer the same benefits.
Why You Should Try Bitter Foods
If you gravitate towards treats on the sweeter end of the spectrum, you may be cringing right about now.
However, you might reconsider after you find out what advantages habituating yourself to zestier flavors can have.
Watch this short overview of polyphenol benefits if you want a quick explanation:
Otherwise, here’s why you should try bitter foods:
Fruits, veggies, and other plant-based products are all nourishing in varying degrees.
Often paired together, fruit and vegetables are both part of a balanced, wholesome diet. The crucial vitamins and minerals they contain are essential for promoting overall wellness.
Plus, both contain dietary fiber—yes, even fruits—which is linked to perks like improving weight management and higher bone mineral density.
A bonus is most fruits and veggies are low in calories. You can benefit from all the nutrients you need without worrying about the scale going in the wrong direction.
The cacao bean, from which chocolate derives from, is on a different level from sugar-packed milk chocolates. As long as the bar you’re eating is at least 70 percent pure, you get substantial quantities of magnesium, potassium, and iron.
Our appetites often get the better of us, which can make managing weight a struggle.
Choosing to consume bitter beverages or foods could be helpful for obese individuals. An animal trial revealed lemon polyphenols might have the ability to combat the effects of diet-induced obesity.
Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory
Polyphenols have antioxidant properties, which can protect your body from free radicals, a type of molecule that can damage cells.
These destructive compounds can also provoke inflammation—which can lead to certain chronic diseases.
As polyphenols are also anti-inflammatory, they’re another valuable line of defense for your body. These capabilities can reduce your chances of contracting a serious illness.
Lower Heart Disease Risk
The cocoa bean is also a useful ally against coronary heart disease. The antioxidants it contains can encourage better vascular health.
Bitter beverages such as green tea have equally impressive credentials. One cup of this hot drink with your meal can inhibit fat digestion, which in turn can lower cholesterol.
Control and Prevent Diabetes
Polyphenols show promise at preventing and managing type 2 diabetes since they lower blood sugar and boost the secretion of insulin.
Improve Brain Health
The zingy compounds are also brain-healthy, as they can reduce your chances of neurodegenerative disorders—such as Alzheimer’s disease—later in life.
Adding these foodstuffs to your diet can also improve your memory and attention span, as can the drinks. If you suffer from anxiety, the old adage about a calming cup of tea might help alleviate symptoms—as long as you choose the green variety.
Enhance Gut Function
If you were asked to name the essential organs, the digestive tract is one you may neglect to think about.
Nonetheless, this complex system plays a significant role in how our bodies feel and perform. That’s thanks to the living organisms—known as the microbiota—inside it.
Bitter foods could potentially act to prevent certain cancers.
We already know that eating lots of veggies and fruits can lower your cancer risk—which is partially attributed to the polyphenols they contain. These agents can also work to hinder the growth of malignant cells.
They’re frequently used alongside other drugs for chemotherapy and are accepted by cancer researchers as a potent weapon against the dreaded disease.
How to Eat Bitter Foods
Unfortunately, understanding that something is good for you won’t alter the taste. With that said, how do you reduce the bitterness in food?
Firstly, citrus fruits like limes and lemons aren’t your sole option if you’re finding bitter foods tough to bear.
Culinary staples such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are all plentiful in polyphenols. There are many seasonings and recipes to experiment with.
This video explains how to cook them if you’re eager to try:
Another choice is dark chocolate—it’s not as sweet as milk chocolate, but they still have their own unique flavor. Slowly build your way up to stronger concentrations to acclimatize your palate.
You can add a dollop of antioxidant-packed honey to your green tea to sweeten it, or mix berries into your morning yogurt to mediate the bitterness.
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